By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Yeghe Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State has raised the alarm that soldiers from 2 brigade of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt had concluded plans to invade the community again on Monday.
Responding to the rumour, residents of the community have fled their homes to avoid being caught in the mass arrest for which the soldiers were said to be embarking upon.
Soldiers from the 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt had invaded the community last week in search of ex-militant leader, Mr. Solomon Ndigbara. The army said no life was lost in the incident but the community said more than nine people were killed.
In the backlash of the incident, the campaign liaison office of Senator Magnus Abe at Bori was razed by people who alleged that Abe and another chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Barry Mpigi, led the soldiers in the invasion of Yeghe community.
Addressing journalists yesterday, the Paramount ruler of Bua Yeghe, Chief Barinada Gbarane, said there was heavy tension in the community over the alleged re-invasion by the military for mass arrest.
He addressed journalists shortly after leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Rivers South East Senatorial District, led by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Kenneth Kobani, paid the community a condolence visit yesterday.
The monarch pleaded with the federal and state governments as well as other well-meaning individuals to intervene, adding that the community would be sacked if nothing was done.
His words: “We heard that the army are coming to Yeghe for mass arrest tomorrow, Monday. As I am talking now, there is already four vans loaded with soldiers in Bori.
“We don’t know what their mission is again in this place. We are afraid. If not that today is Sunday you wouldn’t have seen anybody around.
“I want to plead with army authority and the government to help us remove the army because we not fighting war here.”
He also thanked the state government for remembering the people in their time of sorrow and trouble, adding that the people need peace.
Reacting to the allegation, the Assistant Army Public Relations Officer, Capt. Eli Lazarus, said the army had no plans to invade the community again.
He also said the presence of soldiers in near-by Bori was a routine exercise as military maintained presence in many communities.
“There is no truth whatsoever about a planned invasion of Yeghe community for mass arrest or anything at all. Indeed, if the army wants to carry out security operation in any community, will it be announced?” he queried.
On the presence of troops in Bori, Lazarus said, “It is nothing unusual. We are doing our normal security work. We maintain presence in many communities. The troops are on routine patrol. The people do not need to be afraid,” he said.